3. November 2017
What makes it necessary? Replacing a top performer is costly, and not just in terms of the time and energy it takes to hire and train someone new. There are the intangibles that walk out the door when a key team member leaves — like the institutional knowledge the person has accrued or the energy that he or she brings to the team. The good news is that with planning you can prevent most unwanted turnover. Start by customizing a retention plan that puts a top performer’s career goals front and center. How to do it:
- f you don’t already know what the top performer’s career goals are, find out in your next 1-on-1.
You can’t help a top performer stay happy and make progress toward his or her goals if you don’t know what those are. To kickstart a career conversation, you could ask questions like:
“How does this role fit into your overall career plans?”
“What goals are you trying to reach right now? Is there anything I can do to help?”
“What would it take for you to be happy here for the next three years?”
“What are some other roles you could see yourself doing down the line? What other areas are you interested in exploring?”
- Help the person identify any skill gaps that might hinder progress toward those goals, and consider ways you can help close those gaps.
Depending on the person’s goals, the solution could be as straightforward as learning new software or as complicated as working on conflict resolution. Once you know the gap, brainstorm and write down ways you can help him or her close the gap: These could range from merely suggesting that the person focuses on building the skill to providing specific learning opportunities or creating chances to practice an essential skill while working on a current project.
- Make a list of ways to enable growth within the person’s current role.
This can help your top performer feel like he or she is making tangible progress on career goals. Depending on the person’s goals, your list might include:
Challenging the top performer to deliver higher business value, solve tougher problems, or improve existing processes.
Adjusting the top performer’s role to focus on his or her strengths or expanding the person’s role with added responsibility.
Buffing up the top performer’s job title, even if you can’t give a raise, to help pave the way for a future move.
- Consider laying the groundwork for a promotion or appropriate internal move.
You might not be able to secure a new position or pay bump for a top performer right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the ball rolling. The particulars would depend on your company and culture, but could mean:
Regularly drawing the attention of upper management to your top performer’s achievements.
Introducing your top performer to key influencers, experts, and potential mentors.
Recommending your top performer for new opportunities, like attending a conference or participating in a special training program.
- Consolidate your ideas into a plan with concrete action steps.
For each idea, you have to help your top performer work toward career goals, list the what, how, and when of what you’re going to do to make it happen. Then do it!